Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Dizzy Box Nine’s Faster Than Anticipation LP

If you’ve ever wondered what happens when fiery guitar licks, wild pop hooks, smooth vocal harmonies and radio-friendly rhythms get thrown into a post-millennium blender, getting ahold of Dizzy Box Nine’s Faster Than Anticipation LP should be a top priority this summer. Outfitted with fourteen party-starting tracks, including the feel-good “Friday Night,” “If This Is Real,” the distortion-packed diary entry “Near You” and single-caliber “This Is All For You,” Faster Than Anticipation never gives us a chance to catch our breath – it just keeps rocking harder and harder as we go. Valuing melody as much as they do the virtuosity of speed and efficiency, Dizzy Box Nine give us an album that is everything Pop Fantasy was and more in this latest release, and for those of us who were swept away by that LP’s sizzling tracklist, this couldn’t be hitting record store shelves at a better time this July. Rockers needn’t look any further for a cathartic good time than this album’s content, and something tells me that I’m not going to be the only critic remarking as much this season. 

There definitely a raw, punkish element to “Phone Bill,” “The Sun Came Out The Other Day,” “Little By Little” and “If This Is Real,” but there’s nothing in Faster Than Anticipation that I would say qualifies as being particularly abrasive or inaccessible to the casual rock fan. The framework behind the majority of the music here is steeped in pure pop aesthetics, with songs like “Near You,” “OK, OK,” “It’ll Be OK,” “Let’s Go Skating” and “Friday Night” exhibiting as much of The Beatles as they do Blink-182, but it’s worth pointing out that they share little – if anything at all – of their faceting with contemporary radio pop. Personally, I’d really like to hear all of the aforementioned songs in a live setting, if for no other reason than to hear how Dizzy Box Nine would broach performing them outside of the studio environment. The compositional integrity behind Faster Than Anticipation’s best moments is more than flexible enough to support multiple medleys and extended jams, and that much is obvious even to the most novice of critical ears. 

I fell in love with Pop Fantasy the first time I listened to it, and I will say that Faster Than Anticipation doesn’t disappoint as its sequel by any means. One of the reasons why I have a lot of respect for this group is because of their ability to evolve their sound without abandoning any of the core aesthetics that gave them an edge over the competition to start with. They’re still the same band they were when they recorded their debut, but they’re refining the skillset they began with exponentially through consistent creative chemistry (which I don’t see going anywhere anytime soon). They say it’s a rough time to be a rock n’ roll group right now, but from the looks of how Dizzy Box Nine feel about life, they aren’t experiencing any of the stresses their closest rivals have been.

 Scottie Carlito

Thursday, July 16, 2020

Makes My Blood Dance’s “Power of the Lightside”

Heavy as they come but not devoid of a signature melodic charm that is pretty difficult to work into something as metallically menacing, the fretwork in Makes My Blood Dance’s “Power of the Lightside” is, as one would imagine, the main draw in this flamboyant new hard rock tune. In the video for “Power of the Lightside” or in the song by itself, the guitars don’t glide - they crash into one another, demanding a response from anyone who happens to be within reach of the angst-ridden harmonies. Rock isn’t dead in 2020, and if someone told you it was, they clearly weren’t listening to Make My Blood Dance. 


The vocals here are really sharp from start to finish, and through their defined presence in the mix I think they give the lyrics they convey a little more heart than what would have already been present in “Power of the Lightside.” There aren’t a lot of hard rock or metal groups known for their powerful lead singers anymore, but in more ways than one, this is part of the reason why Makes My Blood Dance are such a standout. They’re melodic enough to be called a retro act, but their music is hardly the product of icon-worship alone. There’s definitely a pretty strong stadium rock influence that’s easy for even the most novice of critics to pick up on in “Power of the Lightside,” but all of the indulgence that this invites into the music is rather refreshing beside the minimalist trends of the American rock underground at the moment. Lately it’s felt as though no one had the desire, nor the mere courage, to commit something as large and in charge as this song to master tape, but with the arrival of Makes My Blood Dance in the spotlight, maybe some of their contemporaries will feel inspired to take the leap into positive aural excess. 

The video for “Power of the Lightside” is a simple one, dissing conceptualism in favor of sticking with something that exudes raw power and reestablishes what we already could have guessed about these guys - they’re party animals with a penchant for introspection and surreal artistry if given enough time and space for it to develop. This is a group that is in love with the rockstar persona in the best possible way, and if that leads them into more creative writing sessions together, I for one encourage the idea of staying with this present trajectory. Makes My Blood Dance are rockers in an age of electronic harmonies and forced synthetic grooves, and for some of us, they’re exactly what the doctor ordered this summer. Rock n’ roll has been suffering, along with its most loyal fans, for well over a decade and a half now, but instead of picking up another pseudo-Queens of the Stone Age album or something dreadful bearing the Imagine Dragons moniker, I would instead recommend trying out what this group is cutting from deep within the annals of the American indie underground. 

Scottie Carlito